A 7th century D&D party

A cleric, a thief, and a fighter (or possibly an assassin) set out to slay a dragon (or a “Gargouille,” depending on your source).

From Ebenezer C. Brewer’s A dictionary of miracles (1910):

“What renders the name of St. Romanus [aka St. Romain] especially memorable in all France, is his victory at Rouen over a horrible dragon, of a shape and size hitherto unknown. It was a man-eater, and also devoured much cattle, causing sad desolation. Romanus resolved to attack this monster in his lair; but as no one would assist him in such a dangerous enterprise, he took with him, as assistants, a murderer condemned to death, and a thief. The thief, being panic-struck, ran away ; but the murderer proved true steel. Romanus went to the dragon’s den, and, making the sign of the cross, walked in, and threw a net over the beast’s neck. The murderer, then taking the net in his two hands, dragged the monster through the town into the market-place, where was a huge bonfire. Into this bonfire he led the beast, there was it burnt to death, and then thrown into the Seine. All the people thanked the saint for delivering them from this pest, the murderer was set at liberty, and Romanus appointed a day of public thanksgivings. — Propre de Rouen.”

No word on the dragon’s hoard, but the murderer was pardoned for his part in slaying the dragon, and after Romanus’ death there was annual procession of his relics ending with the pardon of a convicted criminal.

A surprising number of saints took an active role in slaying or banishing dragons. A pretty good list is here.

Published in: on July 8, 2015 at 8:47 am  Comments (5)  
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Paper Dragon

ROOOOOOAAAAHHRRR!

ROOOOOOAAAAHHRRR!

Here’s a paper dragon I made a couple of years ago for my kid’s Halloween festival — one of the stations along the “pumpkin walk” was to be a Chinese pagoda. We made a couple of pagoda silhouettes out of cardboard, and the teacher wore a nifty traditional Chinese costume. (Cue asshole parent council member repeatedly referring to the costume as a “geisha” and questioning why we wanted dress a teacher as a prostitute. No, really. Sigh.)

Anyway the dragon was made out of triangles of paper cut by my wife from her stock of scrapbooking paper and glued in place on a piece of cardboard. Overall, the dragon is maybe eight feet long and 1.5 feet tall. It came out looking pretty cool, I thought, and I didn’t have the heart to throw the thing into the recycle bin until last weekend, but at least I captured a few photos of it in case I ever need to make another.

dragon1

Published in: on April 30, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Favorite dragon

DSC03480

The first and best dragon figure I ever got!

The 30-day challenge asks what’s your favorite color or type of dragon today.  I am still using chromatic dragons in my current campaign, as I’ve already had a white dragon this time around and last campaign had some red dragons.  If I had to pick a color I guess go with black — the acid breath is just horrible.  Damage and it destroys your stuff.  It’s like a dragon/rust monster combo.  Actually come to think of it that would make a great dragon type: rust dragons.   (Some sort of metallic dragon, gone bad, with only gems and non-metal items for treasure, and a breath that reduces metals to rust.  I’m sure the dwarves would pay a king’s ransom to have the local rust dragon slain.  But maybe the wood elves keep him around to stop logging.  Dilemma!)

Generally I prefer for dragons not have ‘types’ or ‘colors’ that define them though.  Dragons should be more unique than that.  Really every dragon should be different, more like folklore and fairy tales.  A great set of tables for randomly generating dragons is here.  I’m not sure I’d roll randomly but there are some great ideas in the tables.

My favorite dragons from folklore are the Lambton worm

File:Page facing 202 illustration in More English Fairy Tales.png

The Laidly worm

File:Page 195 illustration in English Fairy Tales.png

and the Tarrasque

File:TarasqueStatue.jpg

Some time I should photograph my dragon miniatures.  I do have a group shot though.

dragonsetc

Published in: on September 21, 2013 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Ken St. Andre goes D&D!

Ken St. Andre, creator of the second oldest RPG, Tunnels and Trolls, has a bit of a reputation for putting down Dungeons & Dragons.  I can’t blame him.  My preference for D&D may be simple nostalgia and what I grew up with.  The first time I saw T&T in a store (having heard about it from White Dwarf and Dragon magazines), my brother & I flipped through it and were turned off by the character generation rules.  We were looking for rules-heavier gaming, not rules-lite, at the time, and were getting into Rolemaster and GURPS.

Twenty five years later, when I started blogging and got more interested in older games, I was a little surprised to find that T&T never really lost its following and has gone through a number of editions (none of them, apparently, as dramatic as the changes in D&D‘s editions).  And I hear that Ken still runs T&T at conventions and still ‘takes the piss out of’ D&D.  But imagine my surprise when Ken announced he was promoting a D&D game!

Only it’s not Dungeons and Dragons, it’s Dwarves and Dragon, and not an RPG but a board game.

If you see Ken at a convention you can probably get it from him; he was kind enough to sell it online too for those who aren’t going to conventions this year.  Based on the brief synopsis I saw (dwarves robbing a dragon lair) and the tag line (“a game of strategic agility”), I decided it would be a good gift for my brother, who is a stinking dwarf-lover and pretty clever at strategy.  (Well he always beats me at war games, but that might not be setting the bar very high…)

Anyway I got Ken and the artist to sign a copy but was a little underwhelmed by the presentation (cardstock “cover” sheet, foldable paper rules sheet and a folded card board with counters to cut out).  Heck, Ken himself admitted that a real game company could have made a prettier product with components.  But as he said, this is just an opportunity to make your own.  It’s not like I don’t have some miniatures I could sacrifice for game components.  So below, the full, minis enhanced version of the game I gave my brother.

DnD0

The dwarves are from a Warhammer boxed set I bought several years ago for the miniatures.  The dragon was painted & mounted on a metal washer by Scottsz; I think it is from a more recent WotC game.  I added a matte board base so he’ll take up six squares like the provided counter.  The coins are some old arcade coins I found recently.  The boulders are some pebbles mounted on washers (don’t worry, I eventually painted them too, after the pics were taken).  I guess he could still cut out the counters and use them for a travel version of the game, but I put it all into a box to keep the minis with it.  Naturally I covered the box with wood grain shelf paper to capture that OD&D look.  I also made some custom dice according to Ken’s suggestion (dragon on the 6 face for the dragon’s die, eyes on the one for the dwarf die) — not pictured!

DnD1I have looked over the rules a little and they are pretty simple.  The board is a 9×9 grid (the spaces are rectangular, rather than square, which means the dragon actually covers six squares if aligned one way and 4 the other way, which will antagonize rules lawyers and munchkins … I assume it supposed to fill six spaces however he’s aligned.  The other counters all fill one space.  It’s important to know which space(s) a piece is in.  The dwarves all have a power they can use once for ‘free’ and then only when they roll a 1 on a d6, so you might need to keep track of which dwarves have used their freebie.  I think a few counters or something on would work; otherwise you have to remember.  I could make a little track out of matte board but don’t know if it is really necessary.

DnD4 DnD2This shows the minis next to the counters.

DnD4Another group shot.

DnD3I like the guy with pick and candle on his helmet the most.  I wanted to use dwarves that looked that like they’re sneaking or running but it turns out most dwarves are posing with axes, go figure…

Published in: on September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Turd polishing I: Dollar Tree dragons

I picked up a pair of plastic dragons at a “Dollar Tree” store several years ago.  They were packaged in a small plastic tower about the size of a small thermos mug, and there were also knights in the same sort of towers, but I passed on them as they were six inches or so tall and didn’t seem useful in the scales I model.  The dragons and knights came disassembled; in the case of the dragons each leg, the tail, wings, and head were all separate pieces that fit together with pegs and holes.  The joints were pretty loose and I filled them in with liquid nails, but couldn’t get them to look very good.  I later tried spackling the joints with some epoxy putty (the blue and grey kind plumbers use; that did not work out too well either because it sets very fast.  I need to find some of the green stuff.

Anyway I primed them with Rustolem plastic primer and went to work with a few coats of watered down craft paints, and then did some detailing with full-strength paint.  Both dragons were done in about and hour and a half of painting, total.  They were black and green originally but I figured red and green would be more useful, since I already have dragons of similar size from Descent that I painted black and blue, and I have metal white dragon.  I based them on plain old matte board, some 60 x 80 mm rectangles I probably cut for chariots or elephants for wargaming.

They still look kind of unfinished, but they are good enough for now.  I’ll seal them and add more details, and maybe paint their bellies another color, later.  but for now with so much unpainted lead, I’m willing to let the plastics slide.

The neck joint looks a little better from this side, but it’s still visible, between the seventh and eighth ventral scale:

I suppose painting up cheap plastic dragons like this qualifies as polishing turds, but I don’t care.  They have a fairly classic design, even if they are not very “animated,” and just the right size at mini scale to inspire fear but not hopelessness!

Published in: on April 7, 2012 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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The Grenadier wyvern rider

The shading on the wyvern itself is a little too subtle — it should have had some highlighting or something, but I painted it along time ago.  The rider I actually painted more recently (for a while I had an orc on it but it never looked right).

I really like how this wyvern was sculpted — the coils and lizard-like paws really work.  The rider is really not that interesting, and I don’t why the wyvern is looking off in a totally different direction from the rider (who appears to be aiming at a foe, no less!).  The effect is to make the wyvern seem really out of it, which I suppose it may be (how do you get a saddle on one of these things anyway?)

This figure was from Grenadier’s second Dragon-of-the-Month series.  The first series were all D&D type dragons and came with little gem stands that would all fit together to form a circle, if you bought them all; I think the second series had parts of a map.  In either case, if bought ’em all you’d get a prize.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Some plastic dragons

The Dark Tower game dragon piece, which looks a lot to me like a Superior Models dragon, and more like a Ral Partha drake.

Superior models Dragon #6, attacking.  Image from the Lost Minis Wiki

RP 01-072, Cold Drake. Image from the Lost minis Wiki

Unfortunately he looks kind of silly head-on, as the wings are molded flat:

Here are two dragons from Fantasy Flight’s Descent game (identical models, painted black and blue):

The Descent game is truly awesome for minis.

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 10:18 am  Comments (4)  
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MPC AD&D Action Scenes

My brother & I got these as kids one Christmas, probably 1981 or 1982.

This is an ad from Dragon magazine, issue 67. One thing that is really odd is that while the sets came with the vacuum-formed bases (one a siege of a very small castle, the other a cavernous dungeon consisting of a few rooms), the miniatures that came in the sets are not pictured. Instead, lead Grenadier AD&D miniatures are shown. This is especially odd in light of the fact thatthe figures that MPC produced were very obviously based on the Grenadier line, with some differences.

The MPC figures were made of hard styrene, and generally were assembled in two halves (front & back) although a few were much more complex — the dragon was several pieces, for obvious reasons, and I remember the orc had articulated arms, so you could potentially pose him a number of ways. A few were single-pieces, too, like the skeleton-man. Being familiar with the Grenadier line we could easily identify most of the figures with what they were based on, either from the few figures we owned or the others we’d seen in magazines and catalogs.

Unfortunately I considered these figures to be the absolute lowest caste, and I didn’t try very hard to preserve them as I did my lead figures. I did paint a few, and some were cut up to provide spare parts for other figures and dioramas. Below is the Grenadier lead dragon, and the corresponding MPC dragon. (The MPC dragon had some very small bat-wings which I have lost; I made larger replacement wings out of wire and paper much later. He is also based on a large wargaming base rather than his treasure pile.)

You’ll notice the treasure piles are almost identical (even down to the unidentifiable white object in front of the chest near the shield! I think that thing is a sword or some sort but you really can’t tell. I think it is hilarious that whoever made the copy for MPC decided to copy that too). They are about the same size, although the plastic dragon is about 1/2 the size of his lead twin.

I have almost none of the other MPC figures, and also the scenery bases are long gone. But here is a more mismatched pair of werewolves, lead on the left and plastic on right.

These two are much less obviously related. Many of the MPC figures, as I recall them, exaggerated some details and omitted others (the gargoyle omitted the wings but was in the same pose as it’s lead alter ego, for example). These two don’t look much alike at all. The plastic werewolf looks a bit like a teddy bear to me.

So, along with the Dragonriders of Styx sets, I’ll be watching for any MPC AD&D sets. It is amazing how heavily the D&D brand was marketed in all manner of products back in the early 1980s. I have a couple of school folders, and remember other kids having stickers and rub-off transfers; more recently I saw a wood-burning kit on another blog.

*************

Update: Someone over at the Collecting Grenadier Models yahoo group just scored both of the above sets on eBay and has promised to scan the contents for the Lost Minis Wiki. Sweet.

Also, on further reflection I realize at least some of the figures were not particularly based on Grenadier designs. For example the dungeon set had a Carrion Crawler and I don’t think Grenadier ever did one of those in their AD&D line.

Lead Poisoned has some pics here.

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 2:54 am  Comments (11)  
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